Travel Light Travel Dark
Published by Bloodaxe Books
Winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, 2012
John Agard has been broadening the canvas of British poetry for the past 35 years with his mischievous, satirical fables which overturn all our expectations. And he has just received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry from Her Majesty the Queen. In this new symphonic collection, Travel Light Travel Dark, he casts his unique spin on the intermingling strands of British history, and leads us into metaphysical and political waters. Cross-cultural connections are played out in a variety of voices and cadences. Prospero and Caliban have a cricket match encounter, recounted in calypso-inspired rhythms, and in the long poem, Water Music of a Different Kind, the incantatory orchestration of the Atlantic's middle passage becomes a moving counterpoint to Handel's Water Music.
Travel Light Travel Dark brings a mythic dimension to the contemporary and opens with a meditation on the enigma of colour. Water often appears as a metaphoric riff within the fabric of the collection, as sugar cane tells its own story in 'Sugar Cane's Saga' and water speaks for itself in a witty debate with wine, inspired by the satirical tradition of the goliards, wandering clerics of the Middle Ages.
‘John Agard’s poetry is a wonderful affirmation of life, in a language that is as vital and joyous as we are able to craft it in the Caribbean, in spite of our history of distress’ – David Dabydeen
'A unique and energetic force in contemporary British poetry, John Agard's poems combine acute social observation, puckish wit and a riotous imagination to thrilling effect' – Ben Wilkinson
‘His poems are direct and arresting, playful, full of startling imagery, and are hilarious, passionate and erotic as often as they are political – often managing to be all these things at once – Maura Dooley
‘The new poems create multiple entertaining voices, but they are also urgent fables for our time’ – Paula Burnett, Times Literary Supplement
‘A specialist in word trickery… Agard is one of our most consistent, culture-crossing spokesmen’ – Graeme Wright, Poetry Review
‘One of the most eloquent contemporary poets…rich in literary and cultural allusion, yet as direct as a voice in the bus queue’ – Helen Dunmore, Observer